It may seem rather obvious to point this out, but in January 2011 it's good to be Gerard Piqué. Still just 23 years old, the stylish Spanish center back has won the World Cup, two Champions League titles (with Barcelona and Manchester United) and three league crowns in Spain and England. He was recently named one of the world's top four defenders in the 2010 FIFA/FIFPro World XI, and his Barcelona team is on course for a historic season in European soccer.
Piqué is the rare central defender who has the chance to become a breakout global sports star. He's good at what he does. He wins. He even scores a few goals. And away from the field he's a handsome guy who gives interesting interviews in Spanish, Catalan and, yes, English, as I found out when we spoke for half an hour on Tuesday.
Piqué touched on a number of topics, including how to defend Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the differences between Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola, the success of Barcelona's La Masía youth academy and the current Barça team's chances of becoming the greatest club team of all time. Here's our interview, which is edited for length and clarity:
Ferguson is more about motivating people. I remember when we were at the training ground, he was more like a manager. It was a little different. [Ferguson's assistant] Carlos Queiroz was the one who gave us the training sessions, and Ferguson had the speech for the game. It was really motivating.